February 2015 Newsletter

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February's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello, and how the devil are you? Reading feverishly, we hope. As ever, we've rounded up our favourite books out this month and hopefully you'll find something you - or your children - will enjoy in the picks.

The first reviews for the film adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey by EL James are out. Most are suggesting that the film is better than the book. It's a polarising volume, isn't it? Our reviewer Zoe is in the positive camp but there are many who aren't. It will be interesting to see what readers think: few of us ever prefer the film to the book.

Young detectives are now the most popular characters in children's fiction. Melissa Cox of Waterstones says there has been a striking resurgence in children's mystery books. One of our favourites is Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens, which is shortlisted for this year's Waterstones Children's Book Prize.

Whatever your preferred genre, happy reading this month - and every month!

Golden Hour

We're heading back to 2003 for our oldie-but-goodie this month. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. It is a novel suspended between the scientific and the literary, the mercantile and the artistic, the genre and the mainstream; a literary equivalent of the Third Culture embodied by The Edge. It's beautifully written, with striking language taken from neuroscience, IT and marketing and our reviewer Magda calls it a work of electrifying beauty.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani fell in love with Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback. It's 1717 and two children from a remote farming community find an eviscerated human body. All hell breaks loose. This is a Swedish noir/historical fiction combination that thrills as it enthrals. Cecilia has perfectly summed up Wolf Winter herself when she dedicated the novel to …the women of my family who don’t sleep.

And Ani has another recommendation for fans of fantasy. The Chimes by Anna Smaill paints a world with no writing, ruled by a mysterious upper class and surrounded by music. It's a well-conceived, delicate fantasy that reveals a multi-layered fable as it progresses for those who want it and a ripping good tale for those who don't, and which raises questions about power, power brokers and the dangers of the unquestioning nature of organised religion

In non-fiction, Sue thought Dementia: The One-Stop Guide by June Andrews was an important book. Worldwide there are probably as many as 44.4 million people who suffer from dementia and many times that number of family, friends, carers and relatives who are affected by what is happening to the sufferer. So it's an important topic, too. Few books which claim the be 'one stop' actually live up to the billing, but this one does and it should be read by everyone over the age of fifty.

For tweens and early teens, Anne recommends The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone. Moll and her wildcat, Gryff, embark on an adventure of magic, danger and excitement as they try to save Moll's family and friends from the dark magic threatened by the evil Skull. It's a fabulous fantasy for those who love stories about friendship, loyalty and bravery too - and all the more impressive as it's from a debut author.

For the littlest of little ones, Louise thinks you should consider Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. It's a simple, yet powerful story about bullying and friendship, as told by a group of farmyard animals. It's an ideal book for broaching a potentially sensitive subject with even the youngest children and the illustrations are perfect.

Features

This month, Leonce Gaiter has written for us about why men opt out of the (women's) fiction world. Leonce Gaiter is a prolific African American writer and proud Harvard Alum. His writing has appeared in the NYTimes, NYT Magazine, LA Times, Washington Times, and Washington Post, and he has written two novels. His newly released novel, In the Company of Educated Men is a literary thriller with socio-economic, class, and racial themes. His piece is fascinating.

We've also had our reporter's pads out and there are plenty of interviews for you this month. Sue thought that A Word Glittering with Spikes was a long, indulgent, romantic read and she had quite a few questions for author Nigel McClea when he popped into Bookbag Towers. Jill thought that One Shot at Glory was a truly relatable story about football hopefuls and author P J Davitt makes it warts and all. She and Paddy had a great chat. Rebecca thought that The Virtuoso was a sensitive portrayal of a life in transition. She had quite a few questions when author Virginia Burges came calling. Ani was quietly impressed by debut author Rachael Shanks' A Reverie of Brothers. She and author RD Shanks had an enjoyable chat.

Reviewers

We're always on the look out for people to join our panel of reviewers at Bookbag. We need people who understand that the reader wants to know what the reviewer thinks about the book and not just what's written on the back cover. If you think that you're one of these special people that we're looking for, we want to hear from you. You can find details of how to apply here on the site. Don't be shy!

Competitions

We have competitions for some great books going this month, and every month, so get entering!

And that's about it for this month. If you're passing Bookbag Towers do pop in and see us – we're at www.thebookbag.co.uk.

All at Bookbag Towers

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